Before fully turning our attention to 2018 and the goals and intentions we are setting for the New Year, we must properly close out 2017. Your year end process in your business is AS IMPORTANT if not more so, then what you do in the New Year.
Here are 10 things you need to do to close out your 2017. A brief explanation of each recommendation is listed below.
o Send Client statements or summary
o Review your numbers
o Review your wins & losses
o Raise your rates
o Policies and Procedures
o Systems Review
o Add passive income
o Update client documents
o Update contracts
The list isn’t exhaustive but are areas that we believe are an important part of knowing where your business is ending in 2017 as you set goals for 2018. Sustainable businesses constantly collect data, analyze that information and make adjustments. Ideally, we have flexible business models that allow us to pivot when necessary, but the end of the year is an excellent time to make changes, refine processes or eliminate inadequacies in our businesses.
Send Client statements or summary
First, this is good customer service. I always send a client statement at the end of the month and the end of each year. Whether your clients are other business owners or patients, many of us are investing in ourselves, our businesses and these investments are often tax-deductible expenses. When I send these statements to my consulting clients I also include a brief summary of services and progress-to-date. Again, excellent customer service and a way for you to connect with clients that may have disconnected from services. Reconnect, deliver excellent customer service. Your longevity of your business depends on it.
Review your numbers
I know, this is scary for many business owners’, but it is crucial to making informed decisions. We collect a variety of data across the year, passive and active data collection. We have information about our call volume, average sales, our most productive and profitable days, etc. I utilize data in a variety of ways. Reviewing our data on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis allows me to project our slower periods. It allows me to identify how many staff members can be out of the office at the same time. It also lets me predict when I need to hire a new staff member to prepare for our busiest seasons. Data is your best friend. If this isn’t your area of strength, this is a perfect task to collaborate with a person who loves the numbers.
Review your wins and losses
What DIDN’T work can be as important (if not more) than what did work. We need to identify the processes or systems that aren’t working. We need to pay attention to the areas where we missed our target. What can we learn from that experience and how can we utilize those lessons as we move forward? What were the barriers? What did we miss? What would be do differently next time?
We certainly didn’t hit all the goals we set for this year. We also realize that in some areas we put the cart before the horse. A premature launch can cause you to second guess your product or service when in fact poor planning and inadequate systems might be the culprit.
Raise your rates!
The fact is the cost of doing business increases each year. Your experience and expertise increase as well. You have another year under your belt. Your rate should adjust accordingly. Your clients need to be notified of the increase in prices. How you notify clients is unique to your business and your customers. In my mental health practice apart of our initial client contract (informed consent) indicates that our rates will increase by a certain percentage each January. We send out a reminder in November and December.
Policies and Procedures
The end of year is an excellent time to review your policies and procedures. What policies do you need to put in place? What policies are no longer working for your business? What situations in your business (or your field) are emerging that you need to build capacity around? Address those in your policies and procedures.
Along the same lines as Policies and Procedures, you want to check to see if the systems you are using are optimized for your business and the growth you have planned for the year ahead. Are you paying for systems that you aren’t using? Are you paying for systems that do the same thing? Are the systems you are using capable with the scaling your business? For example, we switched our website to a WordPress platform because we simply outgrew the limited functionality of our previous platform. We also changed our e-commerce platform because we needed more flexibility and consistency in collecting payment and delivering content for our passive streams of income. Additionally, if you have manual processes in your business that could be handled through the implementation of a system this means: 1) this is a task you can automate and 2) a function that you can delegate.
The reality is that all sustainable and successful businesses have some form of passive income. Your earning potential when you are exchanging money for time is extremely limited. Scale up and add passive income. If you aren’t sure what types of passive income you can add check out the webinar: Pajama Profits and collect those coins!
Many business owners fail to check in on how they are doing. Are you engaging in self-care? Do you have opportunities to be away from your business? Are you working IN your business or ON your business? Where do you need to get out of the way? Trust me, I’ve been in the way of my business growing because I had bought into the narrative that “only I could do…”. MOST of the time this is about fear and loss of control. It’s also limiting your growth: personally, and professionally. Where do you need to check-in and step out? Give yourself permission to get support in your business.
Here’s a self care assessment to get you started. There are no right or wrong answers. Just be honest and make changes where necessary.
Update client documents
The end of year is a great time to update the documents you use when engaging with clients. This might be an intake form, a contract for services, or credit card authorization form. In my clinical practice we send out a form that allows the client to update their Emergency contact info., insurance information, as well as Release of Information forms. This is another opportunity to touch base with your clients and share changes to your policies, offerings and availability.
Update contract documents
Reviewing contracts can be tedious but necessary. Are there terms of the agreement that you would like to amend? Or redact from future contracts? Perhaps you were offering a free 1:1 consultation and you will no longer offer that for free, your contract needs to reflect these changes. In my clinical practice, I also use this time of year to negotiate rates with insurance companies, which is an update to my contract. I evaluate whether it is in the best interest of my business to continue or terminate contracts.
What processes are you revamping or eliminating or implementing in your business? Here’s to THRIVING and building SUSTAINABLE Businesses in 2018!